George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason Grad Makes Mark at USA Today Sports and on Forbes’ ‘30 Under 30’ List

February 4, 2015

By Buzz McClain

Mike Foss. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Mike Foss. Photo courtesy of USA Today.

Four years after his first and only internship at a major daily newspaper, George Mason University alumnus Mike Foss has been named by Forbes magazine as one of 2015’s “30 Under 30” media stars to watch.

Foss, BA Communication ’11, is co-founder of USAToday.com’s biting sports news site, For the Win, which launched in 2013 and registered 35 million unique impressions in the third quarter of 2014. Others on the Forbes list include executives and editors at Twitter, BuzzFeed, Facebook and Gawker Media’s Jezebel.

Ever the team player—Foss played fullback on the men’s soccer team for four years at George Mason—Foss defers to his crew.

“It’s a great honor to be on the Forbes list, but at the same time, I have a staff of 12 working for me and I wouldn’t be on the list without them,” he says. “The stuff they’re doing is fantastic. It’s one of those things where I’m benefitting off the genius of others.”

Mike Foss as fullback for the Patriots.

Mike Foss as fullback for the Patriots.

For the Win is an endless scroll of breaking sports news and twisted takes on topics sports fans are consuming at the moment. It begs repeated visits throughout the day as the feed continues to be updated. Which explains Foss’ hours: “Twenty-four/seven,” he says. “The Internet never sleeps.”

His hours were better as a USA Today intern, covering college sports. As can happen with internships, Foss was in the right place at the right time: The soccer beat writer took a break to do a book just as the Soccer World Cup was starting in 2010 in South Africa.

“My internship transferred from covering college softball to covering World Cup soccer,” he says. “I was doing two or three stories a day.”

For a student athlete with aspirations of going pro—he played with the Real Salt Lake U23 team and worked out with the full team in 2009—the gig was nirvana. A few months after graduation, and keeping those contacts connected, he landed a job as a digital editor at USA Today and eventually worked with For the Win co-founder Jamie Mottram to start the site.

The internship was crucial, but it was an internship that never would have happened without the push of Mason journalism professor Steven Klein, now instructor emeritus.

“I took every class he taught,” Foss says. “At that point, I had no internships and no plan for one. I was going to play pro. But [Klein] said, ‘Do the internship, because you need a backup plan.’”

Mason grad Mike Foss meets many high-profile athletes, including interviewing Team USA guard Kobe Bryant during the team's final pre-competition practice at University of East London for the 2012 Olympics. Photo courtesy of Michael Madrid-USA TODAY

Mason grad Mike Foss meets many high-profile athletes, including interviewing Team USA guard Kobe Bryant during the team’s final pre-competition practice at University of East London for the 2012 Olympics. Photo courtesy of Michael Madrid-USA TODAY

“Mike was tenacious, focused and responsible,” Klein says. “Soccer practice took place in the morning, and Mike sometimes showed up for class with his head on sideways from a soccer ball or kick to the face. But he showed up and was actively involved.

It was easy to recommend him to USA Today, and the timing of the internship during the summer of 2010 could not have been better for Mike … Mike demonstrated that he was a go-to guy, and the rest of the story followed pretty naturally there for him.”

“Timing is everything,” Foss says. “If Steve hadn’t pushed me at the right time, I wouldn’t have gotten the internship; if the soccer writer hadn’t decided he was going to become an author, I’d have been stuck on the college softball beat; Jamie didn’t have to talk to me about ideas for the site, but he did.”